July 22, 2009

Police drop charges against Henry Louis Gates

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Henry Louis Gates' mugshot, as released by the Cambridge Police Department

Henry Louis Gates' mugshot, as released by the Cambridge Police Department

Charges against author and Harvard prof Henry Louis Gates have been dropped by Cambridge, Massachusetts prosecutors.

For those of you who weren’t aware of his arrest, which happened last Thursday but only made the wires late yesterday, here’s what happened, as per an Associated Press report by Melissa Trujillo: “Officers responded to the home Gates rents from Harvard after a woman reported seeing two black men trying to force open the front door. Gates’ lawyer, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, said the professor had returned from a trip overseas, found his front-door jammed and had to force it open. Police said the 58-year-old Gates was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.”

But yesterday the city of Campbridge dropped the charges, issued a statement calling the arrest “regrettable and unfortunate,” and announced that both Gates and the police had agreed together that “This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives

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